A How-To Guide To Hardwood Flooring Installation

If you’re looking to install hardwood flooring, there are general steps you can follow to ensure your finished floor looks as beautiful as you hoped. Correctly following laid-out steps helps ensure that boards fit, and you don’t end up with gaps or uneven surfaces. Take your time with the installation, or ask a professional to install it for you. Below, we outline everything you need to know about installing hardwood floors in your home.

Professional vs. DIY installation

Professional Installation

We’re going to have to recommend this option first and foremost because it remains the best way to ensure an expensive product goes in correctly, looks flawless and is guaranteed. There is an art form and plenty of skill required to do this well. You may have done minimal if any wood floor installation in your lifetime. However, the professional installers will have done this daily, for years, so their ‘knack’ for doing it right, efficiently, beautifully, will outmatch yours. Keep in mind that renting equipment you’ll need to go it alone is relatively costly, including a mitre saw, air compressor, floor nailer, and more. When you need pieces cut and troubleshooting for edges and angles, the pros will have the eye and experience to make the precise adjustments. Mistakes can be costly and the entire process far slower for a novice floor installation. They will also be faster than you, most likely.

DIY installation

The rising popularity of click-together laminate and vinyl planks make renovations fun and easy for the DIY crowd. The materials and equipment needed are far more straightforward. It is possible to rent the three key elements – floor nailer, compressor, and mitre saw, to install your Toronto hardwood flooring. Cutting hardwood is tough on a mitre saw, so even if you own one, we recommend you rent one from a large supplier instead. Once you factor in the cost of equipment rentals, don’t forget to consider the cost of waste materials. Expensive wood species like exotics will increase wastage fees when you cut edges. A hardwood floor installation typically requires extra wood to be purchased which covers end runs, and any inferior boards you come across. Mistakes will be pricey, but they do happen with DIY so the extra boards will be essential.

Steps to installing hardwood floors yourself

Step 1- Measure your room

Measure the length and width of the room then multiply to determine the square footage. When you order your flooring, you’ll need to order 10-15% extra to account for damaged or irregular pieces.

Step 2 -Check the sub floor

Minimum requirements for your under layer are 3/4″ plywood. Ensure that there are no squeaks or uneven areas in the subfloor. If you find a squeaky or wiggly spot, secure it with a drywall screw. Remove the shoe-moulding and clean up thoroughly.

Step 3 -Vapor barrier paper

You will need strips of vapour barrier paper under your hardwood flooring in Toronto. Roll out the strips with a 4” overlap and staple it to the subfloor. 15-pound tar paper or a layer of felt are commonly used and inexpensive. Mark on top of it where the joists are with a pencil.

Step 4 -Begin installation

Start installation at your longest, unobstructed wall. Snap a chalk line 3/8″ away from the baseboard. Later, this will allow for mild expansion and contraction of boards due to weather.

Step 5 – Place The Boards

Spread your boards across the room. Mix and mix the shades, colours and lengths. The natural variations of wood can create a random pattern. Laying out the planks like this is called, “racking the board.” It’s essential because the packages/bundles of boards will tend to be more uniform in each group and installing one box at a time will show groups of similar light and dark areas or textures. Choose a long, straight board to align with your chalk line and place it there. Drill your pilot holes through the plank and into the subfloor and joist under it.

Face-nail each subsequent board at the point of each joist and then set the nails with a nail-set. Face nail the entire first row the same way but keep the board’s lengths that you select, random. It’s crucial to face-nail your first plank row because a pneumatic nail can’t get in due to positioning. The force of it hitting the wall would push the wood against your baseboard, eliminating the 3/8″ expansion zone you created. Note- lay your first boards perpendicular to joists underneath. That will help ensure a long lasting, secure fastening.

Step 4 -Begin installation

Start installation at your longest, unobstructed wall. Snap a chalk line 3/8″ away from the baseboard. Later, this will allow for mild expansion and contraction of boards due to weather.

Step 6- Hand-nail the rolls

after your first rows are installed, drill some pilot holes into the tongue of each plank edge and hand-nail the rolls until you gain enough clearance for your pneumatic nail gun.

Step 7- Staple your hardwood boards

Using your pneumatic nail gun, place it over the edge of each board and strike with a mallet, driving a staple into the tongue at the side. Working your way across, power-nail the planks through the tongue. Leave just a 3/4-inch gap for expansion between the end plank and wall. Stagger the ends by 6 inches and keep racking bundles as you progress.

Step 8- Framing around obstructions

As you work across the floor, at the edges, you’ll likely encounter obstructions like fireplace edges or counters. Mitre your boards to create a buffer between boards and the wall, positioning boards, so they line up with the rest of the floorboards. Cut off the plank tongue if it’s on the edge facing the obstruction. Where your hardwood flooring meets a bump, frame or other irregularity, cut board corners to fit. Push your board flush to the obstacle and measure out where to cut away material. Allow for a ½ inch expansion gap at the end of a plank, and ¾ along edges. You’ll make your cuts with a jigsaw.

Step 9- Fill any holes

You can replace the shoe moulding once all boards are in place, then putty all your nail holes that have been face-nailed. Your wood-putty should match the tone of your wood perfectly.

Step 10- Toronto hardwood flooring maintenance

Maintenance of beautiful wood floors isn’t complicated. You should regularly sweep to keep grit off and protect surfaces with furniture pads. Avoid excess water and spot clean or use a lightly damp mop instead.

Tips to ensure your hardwood flooring installation is successful

Tip 1: Pay Attention to Density

One of the first questions you’ll be asked when you go shopping for hardwood flooring in Toronto is what species of wood you want. There are numerous varieties and each has different appearances and traits. Broadly speaking, woods such as Douglas Fir or Pine are softer and woods such as Brazilian Walnut or Oak are firmer and denser. The higher the density and hardness, the better a wood can withstand foot traffic. Consequently, wood species with a low grain density are best used in rooms that only see low levels of traffic, such as a bedroom or closet. If you know the kind of use your floor will get, you can easily find a species with the density you need.

Tip 2: Remember That Cost Isn’t Everything

There will be several times when shopping for hardwood flooring in Toronto where you will be faced with choices that have a clear winner where affordability is concerned. Picking the cheaper option makes sense but be sure you properly understand the trade-offs. For example, engineered hardwood is almost always cheaper than solid hardwood and is better at resisting moisture. However, engineered hardwood can only be sanded down and refurbished a handful of times before you risk reaching the plywood base and need to replace the floor entirely. Therefore, engineered hardwood might make less sense if you plan to live in the home permanently.

Tip 3: Pre-Finish for Less Hassle

These floors come in pre-finished and site-finished options. The first is when the finish is performed in the factory and the latter is when the finish is applied during the installation itself. Pre-finished will look like it appears in the catalogue and takes less time to install since any sanding and staining has already happened. You are also more likely to get a manufacturer warranty when using pre-finished. Going for pre-finished hardwood lets you trade customizability for a faster installation and fewer burdens overall.

Tip 4: Get a Professional Install

Installing this type of flooring is not a straightforward process. It requires properly preparing the subfloor and planks need to be lain carefully to avoid subtle or not-so-subtle errors that detract from the final appearance. Hiring a contractor does cost more than DIY, but you will enjoy your floor better in the long run by ensuring a proper and professional installation.

Tip 5: If You Have Pets, Go Hard

This type of flooring is compatible with pet ownership but comes with certain caveats. The main one is that you should err on the side of harder woods even if the room you’re renovating doesn’t see a lot of foot traffic. Harder woods are more resistant to scratching and will be better suited to putting up with the scrambling of paws and claws. You should also look for options that use an oil-based polymer finish instead of a water-based finish since the latter will offer better protection against any “leavings” or stains that a pet might cause. An additional protective varnish may also be a good investment.

European White Oak - Engineered Hardwood - Lightly Wire Brushed - CF1032124

Commonly asked questions to hardwood flooring installation

When is the most convenient time to plan your installation?

During the installation process, you’ll find that it can be a little noisy. Unless you arrange otherwise with the crew, all plank cutting must be done in the area of installation. You may select a day or two when you’re not expecting visitors or entertaining. Having small children and pets out of the house is more convenient as well. Children and pets are intrinsically fascinated by the activity surrounding the installation process and must be kept safely away from the workspace. Toronto Hardwood Flooring installation will vary depending on the size of your space and prep of the subfloor so be sure to ask your installation team for a project completion estimate that will help you plan.

What are some positive things I can expect during my install?

When choosing experienced professionals from Chestnut Flooring in Toronto, hardwood goes in correctly and flawlessly. They respect your living space and your time, taking great care with clean up. Our professionals have plenty of experience working efficiently and with minimal mess or inconvenience to the homeowner. You can relax, leave the house and let someone else handle the tricky work of putting your new floors in. Choosing to install your floors during a quiet and colder month of the year will ensure that boards aren’t swollen or warped at all, and installation is smooth. Though it can be tempting to DIY just about any home project these days, we highly recommend that an investment like real wood floors be left to the specialists, ensuring fast, headache-free work and maintaining the integrity of your product warranty.

What are some things I can expect once the floor is finished?

You can expect warmth and elegance that will continue to bring value and beauty to your home for generations. Few materials offer the instant, enchanting luxury look that hardwood will give you. Your floors will be easy to keep clean and care for, using manufacturer recommended products for the maintenance of luminous shine, and spot cleaning any spills as needed. You should plan to lay some rugs or floor runners in high traffic areas, places where shoes are kept, and where pets run in and out as their nails may affect the surface.

You can expect this natural, organic product to be safe and clean for your air, warm and inviting for your feet. Over long periods of time, some hardwood floors begin to show signs of scuffing and busy foot traffic or furniture marks may leave marks. When you’re ready for rejuvenation of your floors years down the line, investing in a professional refinishing will bring them back to freshly-installed glory.

To learn more about the installation process and benefits of solid hardwood, contact Chestnut Flooring today or come in to see our luxurious showroom. We look forward to meeting you.

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